Monday, December 5, 2016

Spotlight: The First Noel

Okay -- here we go again. I've started putting together YouTube videos again. This one is "The First Noel," which is included in my newest collection, December.

If you'd like to play this yourself, you can purchase the sheet music either individually, or in the collection December.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Music Business: One Week Left

I think I can do this. I'm currently shooting for next Saturday (10/22) for the grand opening of Melkim Publishing. I'm still going through a laundry list of things that need to be completed. My printer should arrive Thursday or Friday, and then it will be one final mad dash to make last-minute layout changes. Then I'll flip a switch and be open for business.

I will open with 11 Christmas Selections under the Good Report Music imprint: a section of Melkim Publishing dedicated to the Mormon/Christian Music audience, presenting music meant to be performed in church services.

Six piano pieces will be sold both individually and together in a collection.

  • Joy ("Joy to the World" with "Ode to Joy" and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" mixed in)
  • The Child ("O Come, O Come Emmanuel" mixed with "What Child is This?")
  • Silent Night
  • The Three Kings of Orient Are
  • The First Noel
  • Far Far Away on Judea's Plains

Five choir pieces will be sold individually.

  • We Three Kings for TBB & piano
  • Ding Dong! Merrily on High for SAB & piano & organ
  • Away in a Manger Medley for SATB & piano & flute (features three different popular melodies)
  • The Child for SAB & piano (a choral adaptation of the piano piece above)
  • The First Noel for SATB & piano (a choral adaptation of the piano piece above)

I'm looking forward to the big opening: 11 pieces to start off with, and I will be adding more in the months to come. In 2017 I will launch the other imprint, Melkim Classical, which will present secular pieces, targeting the general classical music fan.

Tell all your friends. There is new player in town, and we're going to rock this joint.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Striving for Quality

It all started a little over a year ago when I decided it was time to sell my music. At first I approached the prominent Mormon music publisher, Jackman Music, and another market. It was exciting. The owners of both companies contacted me directly. I answered a few of their questions. I sent samples of my music, and then ...

Yes, that's right. Nothing. I sent a follow-up email, and still ... nothing. Not even a rejection letter.

And that's when it hit me. I didn't need the middle man. New technology exists today that allows practically anyone to self-publish their own music. Over the past year, I've done all kinds of research: printers, paper, the printing process, running a business, etc. And now I'm finally in execution mode.

Of course, I could simply start a dinky website and sell my music as pdf's online, but I decided to do better than that. It's true that the notes on the page are the meat of what I'm selling, but if I want to sell, the product has to look good. I must give the customer quality. When someone receives music from me in the mail, it needs to look as if it had been sent by Jackman Music, or by some other quality music publisher.

Instead of the typical office paper, I will be printing on good-quality text paper, similar to what you see in piano books. Instead of my dinky ink-jet printer that prints everything in gray (when I print duplex), I'm going to use a good-quality commercial laser printer that can print nice images on 12"x18" paper. I'm also obtaining a couple of accessories that will help my piano books look more professional. I will also be investing in some targeted advertising.

I'm going all out, but I'm hoping the good quality will help my music to sell. If the customers are happy, they will come back for more.

In a couple of weeks I will launch the company, so come check it out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A New Logo

As of today, I have a new logo for the music business.  Check it out:

I can use it in any color I want: 

And I can use just the tiny logo by itself:  
Excited!  I had to pay someone to work it up for me, but I'm ready to use it.  Better watch out!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Music Business: An Update

It's been a while since I've posted. Part of this is due to spending a lot of time in getting ready to launch my upcoming business. I was shooting for an October 1 opening, but there are a few things that don't seem to want to come together as fast. I can explain more in later posts.

Now that I'm almost ready to open, I'm going to try to squeeze in more posts here. It'll be fun talking about the exciting parts and the annoying, frustrating parts in getting this business started.

For now, I'm excited to say that yesterday I began work on my website, with help from a friend. Right now it's bare-bones, but I'll be changing it up and getting it ready for business. If you hurry, you can check it out in its infancy, before it becomes a fully functional website.

Here's the link: Melkim Publishing

Stay tuned for more details.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Christian Music Market

Last week, I explored the Mormon music market. I had concluded that Jackman Music has a virtual monopoly on Mormon printed music. There are several other viable options for publishing, but they are all digital in nature.

Mormon music is a niche market within the larger niche market of Christian music. If I expand my parameters to include all Christian publishers, there are suddenly so many publishers to consider that I can't even count them all. Here's one list of publishers: members of the Church Music Publishers Association.

You may recognize a few companies on that list: Alfred and Hal Leonard are two of the largest. These two companies print some Christian music, but they also print other types of music. Alfred and Hal Leonard are so large that they seem to have a "don't call us, we'll call you" attitude toward accepting new submissions. They make Jackman Music look like a small-time player.

Another prestigious publisher is Oxford University Press. They publish some of the choral works of Mormon composer superstar Mack Wilberg. Again, this is another "don't call us, we'll call you" publisher. If you are chosen by any of these publishing companies, you're doing pretty well.

In researching these options, I'm finding myself overwhelmed by all the different opportunities. The really big ones are closed off (unless they notice you somehow), and the other ones are so small, I'm better off sticking with the Mormon market.

One nice thing about Jackman Music is that they have a submissions page that's not too hard to find. They're small enough to want to constantly acquire new works. When I submitted something, I got a prompt response from none other than Mr. Jackman himself. He asked me questions and he answered my own questions. I never did get a rejection letter, but I experienced much more interaction than I ever got from any book/magazine publisher.

Next week, I'll describe yet another interesting opportunity and then explain why I came to the decision to just do it all myself.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Mormon Music Market

If you want to start your own music publishing company, you will need to understand the current market. A year ago, when I initially reached out to find a publisher for my music, I was surprised to learn that there are so few players in the Mormon music scene.

Jackman Music holds a virtual monopoly on "paid" sheet music. Chances are, if you sang a choir piece or bought a piano arrangement of a Mormon hymn, it was published by Jackman. They specialize in music that is appropriate for singing in church settings (sacrament meetings, conferences, and so on). They are what you would call a "traditional" publisher.

Believe it or not, Deseret Book does NOT publish sheet music. They sell it in their stores, but they seem to be happy enough to let others do the publishing. Deseret Book does use an imprint, Shadow Mountain Records for recorded music, but I'll explore that later.

There are a few "paid" publishers that sell music online. This new model allows one to download a pdf file, print as many copies as needed, and purchase labels to affix on each copy to make each one legal. Since there is no printing on their side (except for the labels), they're able to sell at prices lower than "traditional" publishers. However, your choir will have to be ready to shuffle loose pieces of paper.

LDS Music Source, famous for their green labels, seems to be the oldest. There's a good chance you may have sung one of their pieces. They feature the music of David A. Zabriskie, and a couple of other composers.

HolySheetMusic, using gray and red labels, is somewhat newer, run by none other than David A. Zabriskie. They seem to offer a larger collection of music from composers like Daniel Carter, Kathleen Holyoak, and others. Plus, they claim that the copyright remains with the composer.

MusicSpoke is another newer experiment featuring allowing anyone to download pdf files for a price.

Then come a whole slew of free publishers. The most famous one is Free LDS Sheet Music. Practically anyone can post their music and have it available for free. If all you wish is to expose the world to your music without earning cash, there is no longer any excuse. Check out this site, and you will find your outlet. However, like the last three websites, this is download only.

To summarize all of the above, there exists only one prominent publisher that offers printed Mormon sheet music. So, if you're an aspiring Mormon composer who hopes to hold a good-looking physical booklet of your music in your hands, Jackman Music is really your only option.

That is, of course, unless you do it yourself. Many Mormon composers have gone this route. One is my former BYU colleague, Cameron Rose. He created his own publishing company, Providence Music, for the main purpose of promoting and making available his music. As I contacted him and asked about his business, he was happy to tell me how it all works, and gave me valuable advice. In a nutshell, the technology exists for anyone to do this on their own, if you're willing to do the extra work.

Another is my friend at church, Geoff Groberg, who is also currently helping me put my business together. He specializes in folk music, produces sound recordings, and offers sheet music for free.

And that's where my new upcoming publishing company fits in. At first, it will only sell my music, targeting Mormon/Christian audiences with one imprint, and more classical audiences with the other imprint. Later, I'd revisit to see if it's able to print other composer's works as well.

My competition will be the ever-pervasive Jackman Music, the online sticker download market, and the flood of free downloadable music on the other side. With this backdrop, I will have to sell my music as being something new and worth buying.

I'll let you know how it goes as things move forward. Perhaps you may be inspired to take a similar path.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A List of Pieces to Publish

One part of starting a publishing company is putting together a list of the pieces you're actually going to publish. In the beginning, I'm going to try and start with approximately 24 pieces written by me and my collaborators. Here's what I have lined up so far.

Mormon/Christian Music
  • December (collection of Christmas preludes for piano)
    • Silent Night
    • The Three Kings of Orient Are
    • The Child (What Child is This? / O Come, O Come Emmanuel)
    • Far Far Away on Judea's Plain
    • The First Noel
    • <one more Christmas prelude not yet composed>
  • We Three Kings for TBB & piano
  • Joseph Smith's First Prayer - prelude for piano
  • I Know That My Redeemer Lives - prelude for piano
  • Abide With Me! - prelude for piano
  • Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ - original composition for piano

Other Piano Music
  • Opus 1. Five Early Songs (includes "My Special Girl")
  • Opus 13. Five Pieces of Time
  • Opus 18. Three Little Sonatinas
  • Opus 19. Four Seasons
  • Opus 21. Sonata #1
  • Opus 23. Visions Regained (includes "Cockroaches")

There are still a few other pieces where I still need to gain proper permissions before I can announce them. My top priority is to have all the Christmas music ready by Oct. 1, and then the others as time permits.

Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Starting a Publishing Company

The time is coming. October 1, 2016 will be the opening day of my as-of-yet-to-be-named music publishing company. As I promised in this post from last year, I'm going to do whatever it takes to get published, and who better to do it than myself?

Over the next few months, I'll post updates here and talk up this exciting venture.

I'm already being asked by several people: why are you starting your own company? Why not just go through the existing publishers and let them do all the hard work so I can spend more time composing?

Well, I'll tell you why right now ...

  • I've always wanted to start my own business.
  • I'm somewhat proficient at setting music using Finale.
  • My actuarial experience has given me a lot of business knowledge.
  • I've already got a day job, so I'm not counting on the income from this venture.
  • The main LDS music publishers seem to have no interest in another no-name like me.
  • I've been sitting on my music long enough and it's time for it to get out there.
  • Startup costs and risk are relatively low in such a venture.
  • With technological advances in the last decade, the self-publishing route has become more of an accessible route for most anyone who is willing to go that way, and I believe it is the model of the future.
  • And finally, I just think this would be fun.

Starting a business is also a lot of work. I mean ... I've already been planning for six months, and I have another six months to go, but I'll save all that for future posts.

I'll keep you informed as I go along. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 8, 2016

PDQ Bach: Schleptet

This week, I'll post another PDQ Bach video, and include a personal story.

At least twice, I've seen Prof. Peter Schickele perform live, once at BYU. There he performed his Schleptet. I'm not sure where this recording was captured, but it is a lot of what I remembered. Hillarious stuff! I wonder if this is a recording of that one performance.

Either way, I went backstage to meet him. He's just as funny backstage as he is on stage. Even though my hand was broken, I had to shake hands. Boy, did that hurt. At least I got to touch the guy!

Enjoy this hilarious performance.

Friday, April 1, 2016

P. D. Q. Bach: Konzertschtick for Two Violins Mit Orchestra

To celebrate P. D. Q. Bach's birthday, here is a performance of Professor Peter Schickele and Itzhak Perlman playing the "Konzertschtick for Two Violins Mit Orchestra."

Enjoy!  Also, note that there's a Part 1, but it consists of Perlman and Schickele telling bad puns.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Video of the Week: Easter - Pines of Rome

This Easter morning, listening to NPR, I heard something I'd never thought I'd hear: Respighi's "Pines of Rome" used as an Easter processional.

At first, this may seem a strange combination, but by the end it appears to fit very well. This excerpt from the tone poem seems to effectively capture the idea of Jesus overcoming the darkness of death and rising triumphantly.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Video of the Week: What's Opera, Doc?

While it's still February, I'll present one of my favorite cartoons growing up. Bugs Bunny was by far my biggest exposure to classical music as a child, and this episode has the most. It's even considered to be one of the best cartoons ever. Plus, it has tons of Wagner, and Elmer Fudd singing "Kill the Wabbit."

So for those of you who haven't seen it yet (and for those of you who have and want to see it again), here it is for you to enjoy ...

What's Opera Doc by MistyIsland1

Monday, February 15, 2016

Video of the Week: Forever Families

To celebrate Valentine's Day, I'll submit this video of me playing "Families Can Be Together Forever." This version is straight out of the LDS Hymnbook.

True story: the day I planned to propose to my future wife, I was in charge of selecting the hymns, so I chose "Families Can Be Together Forever," and I winked at her as I directed the music. She still had no idea what was coming later that day. Heh heh.